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HSBC CEO holds Swiss bank account

The bank has reported a 17 per cent drop in profits after a 'challenging year'

23 February 2015

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The chief executive of HSBC, Stuart Gulliver, "holds an account in Switzerland" which was used to hold bonus payments, the bank has confirmed.

"The Swiss account was set up in 1998 in the name of a Panamanian company for reasons of confidentiality and this had no other purpose and provided no tax or other advantage," a statement from the bank said.

Gulliver's bonuses were paid into the account until 2003, the Guardian reports.

There has been a lot of attention on HSBC's Swiss banking arm, since it was revealed that the bank may have actively helped high-net worth individuals evade tax by sheltering money in Swiss HSBC accounts.

There was further suspicion of foul play on the part of the CEO as the Guardian also revealed that although he has been based in the UK since 2003, he is Hong Kong domiciled, thus holding an advantageous UK tax position.

HSBC has clarified that "Mr Gulliver moved to Hong Kong in 1980 and became a permanent Hong Kong resident with right of abode.

"Since being posted to the UK from Hong Kong in 2003, Mr Gulliver has paid full UK tax on the entirety of his worldwide earnings…non-domicile status and the remittance basis rules do not affect the UK taxation of his worldwide earnings from HSBC."

Conversely the bank continues to be shrouded in the controversy of allegedly enabling tax evasion.

Prosecution threat

Lord Ken Mcdonald QC, a former director of public prosecutions, has said that there is "credible evidence" to charge HSBC with enabling tax evasion.

"It seems clear, from the evidence we have seen, that there exists credible evidence that HSBC Swiss and/or its employees have engaged over many years in systematic and profitable collusion in serious criminal activity against the exchequers of a number of countries," he said.

He continued: "The corporate and wholesale nature of HSBC Swiss' apparent involvement in what amounts to grave cross-border crime makes it all the more obvious that the relevant evidence, once it came to the attention of HMRC, should have been the subject of urgent and sustained criminal investigation."

 

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Tax & Wealth structuring